Posted on January 10th, 2013 in Music,Year End

Top 30 Songs of 2012

#30 (tie). M.I.A. – Attention
Everyone was lolling at this, but it’s SO GOOD. So absolutely weird and strange on so many levels…and somehow this is one of my favorite M.I.A. songs. Just give it a chance and let the weirdness destroy you.

#30 (tie). Rihanna – Diamonds

I have never really gotten into Rihanna before, but “Diamonds” is just incredible. It’s the first time in a long time that I have heard a truly good pop song. The irony factor in liking this is 0 by the way. It’s just fantastic.

#29. Bob Dylan – Scarlet Town

Don’t listen to all the people who are saying this is Dylan’s best album since Blood On The Tracks or whatever. That is total bullshit. Those idiots probably haven’t even listened to half of his albums. This record is not that good. BUT there are some pretty decent tracks although even those are basically just new versions of old songs. Includes typically hilariously bad album cover.

Posted on December 30th, 2011 in Music,Year End

Top 30 Songs of 2011

#30 (tie). Kanye West & Jay Z – That’s My Bitch

The world (and Kanye, and Aziz) loves ‘Niggas In Paris‘. I get it, it gets to the heart of the $LOL$ Rich Nigga attitude that Kanye and Jay Z were going for; but ‘That’s My Bitch‘ has Kanye’s perfectionist million-dollar production, a ridiculously catchy synth riff and classic Kanye lyrics (“seen by actors, ball players and drug dealers / and some lesbians that never loved niggas”).

#30 (tie). Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow

With hints of Bowie and Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush made a record that is more wintery than winter. The 50 words make a Kate Bush amount of sense, but that’s the lark—like Haruki Murakami, she makes the weird normal and the normal weird. ‘50 Words For Snow‘ is…kafkaesque?

#30 (tie). Tyler, The Creator – Tron Cat

Tyler’s radical post-racial (and post-societal) hiphop expands on the culture-changing modus operandi of late-80s N.W.A. It’s challenging as hell, even for a desensitized postmodern culture, but that’s exactly what socially relevant music should be. ‘Tron Cat‘ references wetbacks, rape and Hitler; and Tyler himself might be satan. Good luck with that.

Posted on January 3rd, 2011 in Music,Year End

Top 15 Songs of 2010

#15. (Tie) Kurt Vile – Early Dawnin’

Kvile has been on fire this year; ‘Early Dawnin’‘, which appears on Vile’s exceptional In My Time 7″, combines the emotional fragility and acoustic-electropop tendencies of a Benoît Pioulard or Sufjan Stevens with the devil-may-care cool of Adam Green or Evan Dando.

#15. (Tie) Perfume Genius – Mr. Peterson

One of the most emotional songs from an incredibly emotionally-charged record; ‘Mr. Peterson‘ details the story of a gay relationship between a student and his teacher that ultimately results in the teacher’s suicide. Mike Hadreas’s delivery is somehow both full of emotion and completely detached, giving this song a white-knuckled tension that is only accentuated by brilliant lyrics like “He made me a tape of Joy Division / He told me there was a part of him missing / When I was sixteen / He jumped off a building”.

Posted on December 4th, 2010 in Music,Year End

The 17 Best Records Of 2010

Instead of force-fitting a list to some arbitrary number, here are the albums released this year that I could not live without. There are 17 of them. A few great records that basically all tied for #18: Grinderman, Killing Joke, Hot Panda, No Age, Sleigh Bells, Wavves, Sufjan Stevens, Belle & Sebastian, LCD Soundsystem, Warpaint and Health’s Remix album.

Arcade Fire
The Suburbs
It’s no Neon BIble or Funeral, but it’s still Arcade Fire. The title track and ‘Sprawl II‘ are as good as anything the band has written.
Transference seems lacking upon first listen, but the tight rhythms and jams are hidden in plain sight (sound?).
Pyramid Of The Sun
Psychedelic post-rock electro made for double rainbows and booze on summer afternoons.

The National
High Violet
By far The National’s best record to date. ‘Anyone’s Ghost’ is one of the most breathtaking songs of the year.
The Tallest Man On Earth
The Wild Hunt
Tallest Man’s second full-length is a haunting Dylanesque folkscape with enough originality—and modernity—to break free of Dylan’s shadow.
Public Strain
One of the best debuts in years. They had a meltdown on tour, canceled the remaining dates and (supposedly) broke up, but…brothers gotta hug.
Odd Blood
A brilliant 21st-century update of the late-70s/early-80s Talking Heads period.
Beach House
Teen Dream
Beach House’s third album is…gorgeous, hypnotizing, dreamy, stunning, incredible.
Adam Green
Minor Love
Minor Love shows a tender, stringless, hornless side of Green; stripped down and (almost) emotional.
One of Liars most potent records; Sisterworld mashes and stomps art+insanity into a fireball of indie hooks.
Perfume Genius
The jawdropping debut from Mike Hadreas confronts pedophilia, abuse and homosexuality and is somehow both hopeless and full of hope.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Before Today
Less schizophrenic than previous albums, but still an outstanding Encyclopedic collection of music history, and this one comes loaded with hooks and funky 70s-esque basslines!
Blonde Redhead
Penny Sparkle
Patience is a virtue on Penny Sparkle. The shoegaze is gone, but a timeless netherworld of ice cold electro-pop remains.
Les Savy Fav
Root For Ruin
Tim Harrington over the past few years is as close as an artist can get to “He’s On Fire!” from NBA Jam.
A post-everything wintry dance party from the arctic mind of Dan Snaith.
Halcyon Digest
Few bands are as consistently brilliant as Deerhunter right now, and the blissful pop on Halcyon Digest displays Bradford and co. at the top of [his] their game.
Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles
They may be dicks, but music doesn’t lie, and every song Crystal Castles has created could have come straight from heaven.
Posted on January 2nd, 2009 in Music,Year End

Top 25 albums of 2008

2008 kind of sucked for music. there were just a few utterly amazing records, and really only 20-25 good ones. i didn’t feel too terrible about any of those that didn’t make it on the list. BUT, here are my favorites anyway.

Portugal. The Man – Censored Colors
Equal Vision
Portugal. The Man’s brief history is already quite inconsistent. Their brilliant debut was followed by an amazing EP, which was followed by a starkly disappointing full-length just a few months later. Which was followed by this—possibly their most consisent record (whether that’s good or bad i’m still not sure). Still, Censored Colors more or less flows from beginning to end, albeit without the highs of their first album or the lows of their second.
Beck – Modern Guilt
Possibly Beck’s most cohesive record to date, Modern Guilt is drenched in sublime melodies and sunny rhythms and sing-along choruses. Beck doesn’t rely on his chameleon-like musical ability as much as he has in the past, and as a result the album flows seamlessly from beginning to end.
The Faint – Fasciination
Fasciinatiion moves away from the orchestral direction of Wet From Birth and back to the machinistic vitality of The Faint’s earlier records. Unfortunately it falls short in its attempts to revisit the deceptively simple melodies and hooks of those efforts. A solid album, but we have come to expect much more from them at this point.
The Black Angels – Directions to See a Ghost
Light in the Attic
The Black Angels’ second full-length harkens back to the 60s even moreso than their first, resulting in an undeniably amazing trip through a dreamed-up-decade of faux Vietnams and LSD and Woodstocks. Yet, as much flower-power decade nostalgia The Black Angels possess, they still manage to sound simultaneously modern, which gives them resonance and reason to look back on the past and recreate it on their terms.
No Age – Nouns
Sub Pop
Nouns picks up where the highly acclaimed Weirdo Rippers left of — bursting with fuzzed-out guitars, abrasive melodies and barely audible vocals. Yet, buried underneath the layers and layers of noise and dissonance are sugar-coated hooks on par with some of the best indie pop bands around, which gives this record a disarming warmth.
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
MGMT’s first full-length is a sort of savvy melangé of vintage Bowie and late Flaming Lips — juxtaposing sunny psychedelia with dancey anthems that compliment eachother beautifully by turning keyboards into acid flashbacks and acid flashbacks into dancefloor epidemics.
Tall Firs – Too Old To Die Young
Ecstatic Peace!
Too Old To Die Young meanders and stumbles through muddy melodies and half-drunk confessionals that are equally intrinsic and calming and sad and accepting of themselves. Dave Mies’ fatalistic vocals seem both at peace and self aware — melding perfectly with the band’s intricate guitar arrangements; brooding softly and peacefully, like a moon, setting in the sun’s sky.
Colour Revolt – Plunder, Beg, and Curse
Fat Possum
Colour Revolt’s first full-length tones down the raw, abrasive attitude found on their EP in favor of a muddier, introspective tone — lending the record a mature, slow-paced drawl that snakes around like a dirty southern creek littered with weeds and leeches. Yet, this subtle shift in songwriting enhances the band’s strengths even moreso, resulting in a strong record that reveals more of its secrets with each successive listen.
The Dandy Warhols – …Earth to the Dandy Warhols…
Beat The World
The Dandies’ tongues are firmly in cheek and their middle fingers raised high on their latest record — their trademark sarcasm and wit as good as ever. Such snide megalomania is what makes this band successful and they’ve come close to perfecting it here, with an album that brilliantly blends the hooks and neo-psychedelia of their early work with the fuck-you-i’m-better-than-you attitude they’ve spent so many years cultivating.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – My Bloody Underground
A Records
Eccentric madman Anton Newcombe’s first album in four years is a hallucinogenic journey through the mind of the mentally insane. Most of the tracks found here are much less songs than strange, meandering collections of ambience: brain synapses, otherwordly anthems, mistake-ridden solecisms and druggy psychedelia. My Bloody Underground is neurotic and restless and moody and brilliant.
The Magnetic Fields – Distortion
Stephin Merritt’s latest thematic undertaking is drenched in reverb — brilliantly accentuating Shirley Simms’ sugary vocals, which in turn act as delicious adversaries to Merritt’s deep, miserablist delivery. Merritt’s arrangements are melodic and sunny as ever, lending Distortion a sort of strange happy-but-sad temper that feeds off its own simplistic beauty.
Health – Disco
Lovepump United
Disco brilliantly blends Health’s noise-rock melodies with tumultuous beats and grinding synths that cycle in and out of focus while simultaneously stomping heads and making love. Each mix is unique and interesting, never boring, giving the record a linear feel that darkly (and murderously) straddles the line between man and machine.
The Dodos – Visiter
Essentially The Dodos’ third album, Visiter furthers the delicate guitarplay of Meric Long, dueling splendidly harmonic vocal melodies, slightly dissonant interludes and Long’s penchant for driving (almost tribal) rhythms that appear and disappear and reappear throughout the record’s (grimy? possibly) entirety.
Foals – Antidotes
Sub Pop
Foals utilize myriad influences (everything from the madchester sounds of The Stone Roses to the current neo no-wave of New Young Pony Club), creating a dichotomy of cool — a mature, multicultural sound that staccatos along at a deliberately slow pace and still feels fevered and energetic; kind of like the assured international shitstorm of a U.S. oil spill near the Russian border.
Murder By Death – Red of Tooth and Claw
Murder By Death’s fourth full-length is a soulful deathride through tumbleweeds and deserts and ghost towns, characterized by cryptic string arrangements and haunting passages that brilliantly accentuate Adam Turla’s deep, guttural vocals.
Kings of Leon – Only By the Night
Only By the Night takes Kings of Leon’s despondent southern rock to new, anthemic heights that are draped in a polished sheen not found on their previous work. Still, it works — providing the songs a glisten and shimmer that brings to the forefront the melodies that were often dirtied and muddied in the past.
Local H – 12 Angry Months
Shout! Factory
A concept album about breakups, this record perfectly encapsulates the withered energy required to sustain a useless and fruitless relationship. Musically, the band moves forward where P.J. Soles left off — at times willing to bare some vulnerability while still maintaining the thunderous power of past releases. As usual, Scott Lucas’s lyrics are witty and on point and smothered in a backdrop of pummeling, skullcrushing rhythmic passages.
Black Francis – Svn Fngrs
Cooking Vinyl
This mini-album from Frank Black is easily his best work since Teenager of the Year. Svn Fngrs is loaded with explosive riffs and supercharged dynamics — topped off with delicious, dripping melodies reminiscent of his prolific early-90s work.
Islands – Arm’s Way
Islands’ second full-length finds the band coming into their own as a band with an actual voice instead of just a post-Unicorns project. Arm’s Way is significantly darker than its predecessors, but it’s dark in that sort of way that makes you kind of want to just solitarily confine yourself while you listen to your own insanity and dance happily and think about murdering past lovers and then dance some more.
The Kills – Midnight Boom
The Kills’ latest is as raw and catchy as ever. VV’s vocals are spot on, with a heavy reliance on melodic PJ Harvey-styled causticity. Conversely, the mellow moments add a delicate, complimentary flavor to the edgy mood that surrounds.
Auxes – Sunshine
Former Milemarker Dave Laney’s new project is a stunning amalgam of corrosive melodies and spastic dynamics that come together like the offspring of some kind of Tom Waits-meets-At the Drive in mutation. Abrasive and beguiling and raw, and ultimately brilliant.
Thinking Machines – A Complete Record of Urban Archaeology
This Philadelphia trio’s third full-length is an exclamatory blend of post-punk dynamism and melodic discord that seamlessly connects to its roots but never denies its willingness to explore new sonic territory.
Pidgeon – Might as Well Go Eat Worms
Absolutely Kosher
Criminally underrated Pidgeon’s sophomore album takes more chances than its predecessor — consistently bait-and-switching the tempo; switching songs in the middle of songs; filling melodic passages with delightfully ear-splitting screams while simultaneously adding even more melody. Might As Well Go Eat Worms is a Pixies album on crack — taking extremes to the extreme all while brilliantly coalescing into one amazingly beautiful godlike sound.
Witch Hats – Cellulite Soul
Witch Hats first full-length continues the no-holds-barred, thunderous direction hinted at on their EP. Kris Buscombe’s rasping vocals perfectly match the band’s grungy, Nirvana-influenced palate, while the surrounding noise gives the record a fevered, frantic tone, creating a sort of catastrophic sounding cacophony of beautiful noise.
Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
Last Gang
Crystal Castles’ long awaited full-length is smothered in 8-bit terror and synthy aural candy and out-of-this-world vocal manipulation and otherwise pure insanity. The new tracks stay true to the band’s renowned nightmare-freakscapes while adding an even more dancable vibe, creating a blistering fusion of intensity and melody.